Charleston Day reunion plans ramping upBy GWEN DAILEY,
The 45th annual Charleston Day reunion will be held in Charleston on Labor Day weekend, Friday, Aug. 30, through Sunday, Sept. 1.
Beginning the week before Labor Day, the plans and anticipation will start to pay off as planes, buses, trains, cars, motorcycles and RVs deliver excitement and fanfare not experienced in other small locations.
Individuals who attend Charleston Day in one of the nine cities that host this event every year will grace the Tallahatchie County area with laughter and comradery. Some will bring a joy of reconnecting with family and friends in the area, while those who have never attended or have attended only a few will add to the submission of a job well done by the organizers of this annual event.
To kick off the weekend, an array of activities for the young and the young at heart have been planned.
On Friday, Aug. 30, an executive board meeting will take place at the Charleston Day Center from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Registration will begin at 4:30, also at the Charleston Day Center. During these afternoon and evening hours, the east side of the building will be turned into a patio where food, music, games and other entertainment will be available. A middle school football game is also being negotiated.
Saturday morning beginning at 6, those who have chosen to exhibit items will descend upon the Charleston Court Square to set up food, jewelry, arts and crafts, and family and class reunion booths. Vendors will operate from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.
A parade through the streets of Charleston is also on tap. Bands, dancers and drum squads from other communities have been invited. All national officers and Charleston Day chapters will lead the lineup. Area organizations, churches and individuals are encouraged to participate. The specific route will be publicized at a later date.
On Saturday night, the reunion dance will be held at Charleston Middle School. Tickets are available at a cost of $10 each. A DJ and other entertainment will be provided for participants’ listening and dancing enjoyment beginning at 8. The chapter will also provide refreshments for a minimal fee.
Sunday morning worship service will be conducted at Charleston High School and at area churches. A schedule of those houses of worship that invite visiting Charlestonians to join in their Sunday services will be posted by mid-August and will be available during registration.
A formal reunion banquet is scheduled for Sunday at 6 p.m. at the Charleston High School auditorium. Dinner, musical selections, greetings from local officials, reflections, awards, a keynote speaker and acknowledgements of national and chapter officers are under the auspices of this gathering. Tickets for the banquet are $50 and may be purchased by July 15 using the order form distributed via the web page, firstname.lastname@example.org, mail-outs or by contacting Charleston chapter members Bennie Paige at 662-752-9249 or Lynda Bradford at 662-625-0347.
A closing dance will take place immediately following the banquet. A local DJ will provide music.
Organizers look forward to a weekend that will last in the memories of all participants for a lifetime.
Fast approaching, now is the time to purchase tickets for the dance and the banquet, place an ad in the souvenir book, order T-shirts and other souvenirs, and tell friends.
The Charleston Day reunion is sponsored by the National Charleston Day Organization (NCDO), a nonprofit entity whose basic purpose is to foster engagement among Charleston, Miss., natives across the continental United States and a couple of neighboring countries.
The organization was founded in 1974 by Dr. Ethel Johnson-Greene and a few Charlestonians meeting at a park in Chicago, Illinois, for a one-day celebration of Charleston.
The picnic in the park turned into an elegant weekend-long event in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1978, and the organization has grown and stood the test of time.
Charleston Day reunion was held at home in Tallahatchie County for the first time in 1979.
The executive body of the national organization made the decision to hold the Charleston Day reunion in Charleston every five years. The reunion was last held in Charleston in 2014.
The Charleston chapter of NCDO, under the leadership of Bennie Paige and his executive committee, is in high gear, expecting thousands of current and former Charlestonians and their families and friends to descend upon the area for what is expected to be the time of everyone’s life.
Eight additional chapters located in Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Cincinnati, Ohio; Cleveland, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Marietta, Georgia; Memphis, Tennessee; and St. Louis, Missouri, rotate the event yearly.